Wrapped around the now-flawless body is a shade of paint that took a bit of effort to arrive at. Pete recalled the push and pull; during the build process the car sat in bare metal for almost two years and the guys at Tri Power fell in love with the look. Problem was, Pete wanted something with a blue or purple hue. “The color that it is now is actually a compromise between those two. It’s actually a Bentley paint. The guys said go down and look at the Ferrari colors and the Bentley colors because those are the highest quality paints. So I was laughing because there I was with my face pressed up against the windows of the Bentley dealership looking at colors.” The final finish is deceiving as it picks up shades of its environment, reflecting a changing variety of blues, grays, and purples, depending on the observer’s point of view and ambient light.

Pete’s background as a road racing automotive engineer screams function over form, but they managed to balance the two when designing the interior. Aircraft-style gauges from Classic Instruments brought a clean, utilitarian look, but they wanted to add a few extras that weren’t in the catalog. That meant the boys at Tri Power had to make their own matching bezels for the addition of a stopwatch, acceleration/g-meter, air/fuel meter, and boost gauge. What brings the cool factor up even higher is that those boys don’t use a CNC mill just punching in numbers, they are old-school true machinists making those parts on a manual mill and lathe.

Looking closer at the interior, the spartan carpet screams “race car” especially when sitting in the hot seat and glancing down at the lack of a center console, a clean leather shift boot, and handmade boot bezel. Hiding beneath and directly attached to the custom shifter lives not an old Muncie, but a totally tricked out Tranzilla T56 six-speed. A more pedestrian car builder might cut a wide berth in the transmission tunnel to fit the big overdrive tranny, but Ardito managed to sneak it in with a little mild persuasion. “I didn’t want to have a console or anything there. If you’re familiar with those F-body cars, they have a flat tunnel where the shifter would be. What I did was round out the tunnel without cutting anything, and we also gave it room for the transmission. What they tell you is to pie cut the tunnel and raise it up in sections and the sides. All I did was round out the tunnel and dollied it all the way to the rear, and it gave me all the clearance I needed without cutting anything.”

In order for that transmission to work, the car needed something out front to spin the input shaft. Something like, oh maybe a roots-blown 468-cube Pontiac. Why think small? The job of creating that powerplant was given to Automotive Engine Specialists of Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Pete made it known that he wanted a bunch of power and that he was used to the very linear power curve of his previous road cars. After a little “scope creep” as they say in the project management biz, the engine ended up with a big ol’ huffer sticking out of the hood. A bird catcher for the ’Bird, one might say, the net effect of which, Pete says, is that the power comes on so hard it’s like an on/off switch. Maybe not the best compromise for a road racer, but it sure as heck can leave a pair of black marks a quarter-mile long at will.

The only way Pete can tame such a wild ’Bird is with a killer suspension. DSE has been dominating the autocross tracks across the nation, partly because their stuff looks trick, but mainly because it works. Pete had Tri Power install DSE’s Quadra-Link four-link rear suspension in place of the horse-and-buggy–era leaf springs. Between that and the matching DSE front suspension, they can dial in the chassis for track days or soften it up for street cruising.

The final result of these efforts is a truly custom ride that is anything but stealthy. In fact with 650 horses on tap, it’s a hard job to keep this ’Bird flying under the radar of anyone within three counties, let alone sneaking by those boys in blue.